No. End of Post.
Ok, Ok you want some actual analysis behind this? Fine here it is. Full disclosure in NV I overestimated Rubio and underestimated Trump by a lot. I was spot on with Carson and Cruz. I overestimated Kasich by a bit.
Combine that with my other predictions posted here and you can decide how much weight to put on this.
So you’re looking at several distinct possibilities Kasich in, Kasich out, 3 man race, etc. Carson is almost a non-entity at this point, except that he’s probably pulling a small number of votes from Trump and Cruz.
I think the two most likely are a 3 man race and a 2 man race, with a combination of Trump, Cruz and Rubio. These play out basically the same.
In a 3 man race, Rubio would have to consolidate all the establishment/moderate vote and while ensuring that Trump and Cruz divide up the outsider vote fairly evenly. I think the latter is possible, but the former is not. Rubio has an outside chance of winning in this situation but it’d rely on perfect execution combined with Kasich leaving yesterday. (As every little bit Kasich pulls from Rubio hurts him incredibly.)
In a two man Rubio/Trump race, Rubio loses straight up. The anti-establishment vote is simply too much this cycle to overcome for Rubio (who’s already hindered by things like the Gang of 8 bill.)
In a two man Cruz/Trump race, you basically have two people fighting over a similar set of voters with no one consolidating the establishment/moderate vote. Trump’s control of the media helps in this case. Trump by at least a length.
So what’s left? I have suggested here and on twitter that a Cruz/Rubio unity ticket is the last best hope. Jonah Goldberg at NRO has finally caught up to me. And yet, I’m starting to wonder if this will work anymore. In order for it to work the following 3 things need to happen perfectly:
- It forces Kasich out and takes his vote share. And let’s face it, he seems a bit delusional in that he thinks he’s suddenly going to be loved for being a governor despite the fact they did horribly this cycle. Although if they could eliminate him I suspect his vote share goes to Rubio easily.
- It consolidates both Rubio’s establishment/moderate vote and Cruz’s outsider vote without losing any to Trump. This may be the hardest part since some of Cruz’s supporters might see this as selling out and defect.
- It has to pull at least some of Trump’s support away from him. If 1 and 2 execute it doesn’t have to be a ton of support just enough to maintain a decent cushion. 2-3 points would probably be enough.
All of this would have to happen before the winner-take-all states start. And that assumes Trump doesn’t run away with the delegates like he did in SC on Super Tuesday. Setting aside the unlikely chance of pulling off all 3 of these things, there’s the fact that Rubio and Cruz have effectively poisoned their mutual well over the last few weeks, making it unlikely they come together in the first place (and increasing the likelihood #2 fails.)
Which brings us back to our original point: Can anyone defeat Trump in the GOP primary? No.
Now someone may ask “why the ‘in the primary’ qualifier?” That’s easy, but it’s another post. The setup though is: Trump is going to run so far left in the general, he may be left of Hillary in the end.